Sacred Site and Sound Festival
Tintern Abbey and St Michael’s Church, Gwent NP16 6SE
18th – 19th July 2014

For full details please click here

The Welsh Chamber Orchestra has been awarded a major award from the PRS for Music Foundation Beyond Borders to present a new work by Roger Steptoe (1953 – ), Four Shakespeare Sonnets for baritone and string orchestra, to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare in 2014.

1. Sonnet 147 : My love is as a fever
2. Sonnet 148 : O me! What eyes hath love put in my head
3. Sonnet 12 : When I do count the clock that tells the time (to the memory of Francis Poulenc 1899-1963)
4. Sonnet 113 : Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind

The composer writes, “I have been an avid song writer throughout 40-or-so years as a professional composer. I am drawn to the images of fine poetry and have set words for all voices. This is my first venture into the world of a solo voice and string orchestra.

These four Sonnets have been chosen for their unified theme of love – the anguish and cruelties, the charms, immortality and sheer joy. Various themes and harmonic sequences appear and reappear uniting the four testaments of love in their many guises. The fourth Sonnet is of utmost importance structurally with its lush and sensual harmonies and heavily divided strings.

The Welsh premiere will be given by the work’s dedicatee, Jeremy Huw Williams, with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra, conductor Anthony Hose, as part of the 2014 Beaumaris Festival, May 29th. The WCO will perform it again in Dolgellau on November 28th.

The work is published in its two versions (baritone and strings, baritone and piano) by Editions BIM, Switzerland, with whom I enjoy an exclusive arrangement.”

Roger Steptoe, Uzerche, December 2013

“In a post-modern era often characterised by various aesthetic movements, it is especially enriching to encounter an artist like Roger Steptoe, who possesses a fresh and individual voice at once original, accessible and adventurous.” (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2000))

Alongside Judith Weir and Sally Beamish, Roger Steptoe is a 2013 PRS for Music Foundation Beyond Borders award-winning composer. Since 1999 he has chosen to live in the medieval hilltop town of Uzerche in the French Limousin where he is the Artistic Director of the Festival de Musique Classique d’Uzerche held over a long weekend in August every year.

Steptoe had a distinguished career as a student at London’s Royal Academy of Music (studying composition with Alan Bush) then for 15 years as a professor of composition, harmony and orchestration.

He has composed for most forms – orchestral, concertos, vocal, choral and opera. But it is in the coveted world of instrumental and chamber music that Roger Steptoe has forged an enviable reputation. His catalogue covers four string quartets, two clarinet quintets, the Seven Miniatures for piano trio, the Seven Nocturnes for piano duo, an oboe quartet, four brass quintets, a brass quartet, the Three Paul Verlaine Songs for mezzo, viola and piano, five instrumental Sonatines, a tuba sonata, a viola sonata, the Sonata for trumpet and organ, the Toccata for organ.....all with regular performances worldwide.

Recent works include Spring Music 1 (in memory of Richard Rodney Bennett) for brass quartet (New York Chamber Brass), Brive Dances, the Four Shakespeare Sonnets, Intrada for organ (for the newly-restored organ at St Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, New York) and Spring Music 2 for violin and piano for Virgil Boutellis-Taft’s US tour in May 2014.

Steptoe has the distinction of having a number of key works on CD. The French CD magazine, Le Monde de la Musique, awarded 4 stars to the recording of his Oboe Concerto, Light for organ and strings and the Seven Miniatures for piano trio. “Light” was recorded by Olivier Latry on the organ at the Cathedral Notre-Dame at Paris. Steptoe is the first British composer to have a concerto-type work recorded at this world-famous building.

Most of Steptoe’s output is currently in print. All his recent work from 2000 is published by the international publishing house, Editions BIM, in Switzerland. He teaches at the Conservatoire de Brive-la-Gaillarde.